Tuba City resident seeks degree to help reservation animals
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Growing up on the Navajo Nation and seeing helpless animals hurt, hungry, abandoned, abused and often, ignored, was enough motivation for Zachary Bauer to pursue a degree in veterinary science and to possibly open his own clinic someday, preferably in Tuba City.
“We lack the resources to get full care of people’s animals and the strays,” he said. “The reservation [doesn’t] even have a fulltime veterinarian. We have a doctor that is currently [in Tuba City], but she’s very stressed by the caseload of patients.”
Bauer said seeing the problem was one reason he wanted to attend veterinarian school.
“(To) give back to my community by providing vaccinations, and spaying and neutering animals,” he explained.
As part of his learning process and building upon his experience, he recently volunteered in his hometown of Tuba City with a vaccination drive where they also spayed and neutered animals. The event was hosted by the Tuba City Humane Society in partnership with the Parker Project, a mobile clinic working in the Four Corners area.
“I volunteered [and] helped give vaccinations to the dogs and cats,” he said. “I was taking vitals and subcutaneous fluids. I also helped the Parker Project with the surgeries by monitoring the patients after their surgeries to make sure they were recovering healthy from their sedation and making sure there were no issues… so they [could] go home. “
Bauer said he has always loved animals and said he fondly remembers his paternal grandmother having a lot of dogs and cats that he admired.
“Growing up, I was always around animals. [My grandma] got me my first dog,” he said.
He also said his parents encouraged him to be a driving force and to plow forward with his education.
“My mom and dad have put a lot into raising me,” he said. “They provided so much, and they also sacrificed so much to raise me to [become] the person I am. I’m just doing whatever I can to make them proud. Whatever makes them happy is what keeps me going.”
He appreciates the confidence instilled in him and said his mother raised him to be a confident individual.
“I have the mindset… the sky is the limit,” he said. “I always strive to do more and to challenge myself.”
He encourages young people to explore their career options and enter a field they love.
“I was always told that if you find a career path that you enjoy and love to do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” he said. “That’s what I hope to do… working with animals. Find something you love to do.”
Bauer, 22, will graduate in May from the University of Arizona and would like to become a veterinarian in the future.
For now, after he graduates next month, he plans to take a year off and continue working as a doctor’s assistant in Tucson to gain experience in an emergency setting, which he really enjoys. He also plans to apply to veterinarian school this year and continue volunteering in his spare time with organizations like the Parker Project.
Bauer is a Navajo Nation tribal member. His clans are Tódich'ii'nii (Bitter Water clan), born for Bilagáana, his maternal grandfather’s clan is Ta'neeszahnii (Tangle People clan), and his paternal grandfather is Bilagáana. His parents are Lucinda Yazzie and Brian Bauer.